ACAN urges for coherent efforts to curb youth drug abuse

     Members of the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) expressed concern over the recent spate of drug abuse incidents involving students at the quarterly meeting held today (June 18).

     They were pleased to learn that the Narcotics Division was actively exploring with Education Bureau (EDB) the possibility of assisting schools which were keen to introduce voluntary school based drug testing early. The aim is to introduce a trial scheme on a small scale in the next academic year.

     ˇ§We will look at the readiness of interested schools and availability of downstream services such as counseling, treatment services and community support in considering the trial scheme,ˇ¨ Commissioner for Narcotics, Ms Sally Wong, said.

     Members saw the importance of enhancing drug prevention and timely provision of assistance to students in need.

     ˇ§This trial scheme will run in parallel and contribute to a research on voluntary school-based drug testing schemes,ˇ¨ she said.

     Invitations had been sent out last Friday (June 12) to organizations for proposals to undertake the research. The pilot scheme under the research project is scheduled to take place in the 2010/2011 school year.

     ACAN Chairman, Professor Daniel Shek Tan-lei, said members urged schools to foster a caring environment for students and take proactive measures to help students know the harmful effects of drugs.   They were glad to learn that many schools had adopted a more open attitude towards preventive education than previously.  

     The meeting was given a briefing on the preparation of a new set of anti-drug resource kit for schools to help them develop a healthy school policy with anti-drug elements.  Developed with the assistance from the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, the kit will include guidelines for handling drug abuse cases and measures to strengthen students' resilience to drugs.

     Members were briefed on the drug situation in the first quarter of 2009.  They were told that the total number of reported drug abusers in the first quarter of 2009 stood at 4, 995, which was marginally higher than (1%) that for the same period in 2008 (4,946).

     The number of newly reported abusers (1,137) was more or less the same as that of the same period in 2008 (1,126).  The total number of reported female abusers dropped by 9.5% (from 958 to 867) , but the number of newly reported female abusers under 21 was 18.5% higher (from 189 to 224).  Members noted the number of newly reported male abusers under 21 showed signs of abatement as the figure was 7.3% lower (from 455 to 422) than that in the same period last year.   

     Heroin remained the most popular drug abused.  The total number of reported heroin abusers was 2.6% higher than that in the same period of 2008.  

     Among the psychotropic substances abused, ketamine remained the most common type.  The number of reported ketamine abusers was 3.3% higher (from 1,614 to 1,667).  Among these abusers, 59.7% were aged under 21.

     The number of abusers of other psychotropic substances declined - triazolam / midazolam / zopiclone (10.7% lower), ecstasy (38.6% lower), cannabis (22.7% lower), cocaine (47.1% lower) and nimetazepam (36.3% lower).

     Members also discussed the proposed relocation of the Christian Zheng Sheng College to Mui Wo.   They expressed in-principle support for the relocation and hoped that all parties concerned would calm down and work for a win-win situation.

Ends/Thursday, June 18, 2009
Issued at HKT 23:49